Sunday, January 17, 2010

Things Above

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:1-3)

These verses have caught my attention in the past couple of days. In the previous chapter, Paul discusses some wonderful truths, gives us directions to follow in light of those truths, and expresses his desire for us as believers.

Then we come to the third chapter, and that familiar word "therefore". So, having established all of these wonderfully encouraging facts, we are then told to "keep seeking the things above", and to set our minds on "the things above." It got me to thinking: what exactly are those "things above" that I ought to be seeking and thinking about? I'm quite sure Paul didn't mean that we are to daydream about angels floating around a big throne where Jesus is seated, as in the picture above. So what does he mean?

In Chapter 2, he seems to me to be comparing the "mindset" of the world to a heavenly one. He contrasts worldly thinking with the mind of Christ, and legalistic bondage to freedom in Christ. In fact, when I consider it, I can only conclude that "things above" must refer to Christ, and what He represents to us. Look at all that is said about Him in chapter two:

  • He is God's mystery, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (vs.2,3)
  • We are rooted and being built up in Him (vs.7)
  • He is our gauge of truth, against what we hear in the world (vs.8)
  • In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (vs.9)
  • We are made complete in Him (vs. 10)
  • He is the head over all rule and authority (vs. 10)
  • In Him and by Him we were circumcised, that is the removal of the body of the flesh (vs.11)
  • We were buried with Him in baptism (vs. 12)
  • We were raised up with Him through faith (vs. 12)
  • He made us alive with Him, when we were spiritually dead (vs. 13)
  • He forgave all our transgressions (vs. 13)
  • He cancelled the debt we owed because of our sin (vs. 14)
  • He has disarmed the rulers and authorities, so that now no one is to act as our judge in regard to food or drink or special days (vs. 15,16)
  • He has released us from legalistic, religious standards set by men (vs. 23)

Have you ever heard the phrase "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good"? Well, I think that if we are "heavenly minded" in the proper sense, we can only be more effective here on earth. That is, in terms of the eternal purposes of God. Eternity is something that comes to my mind at once when I think of "things above." The eternality of God and His plan for mankind seems to put every other earthly issue into a proper perspective. So too does that amazing verse in Romans chapter eight, that says He is working "all things" together for good. But above all these things there is Jesus Christ, who is more than enough to set our minds on, as He "became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption," (1Cor. 1:30). Surely there is enough there to occupy our minds for a good long time.

What about you? What comes to mind when you think of "things above?"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

He Must Increase...

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30).

What is spiritual growth? What is spiritual maturity? What is it to go on in the Lord? I fear we have got mixed ideas about this. Many think that spiritual maturity is a more comprehensive knowledge of Christian doctrine, a larger grasp of scriptural truth, a wider expanse of the knowledge of the things of God; and many such features are recorded as marks of growth, development, spiritual maturity. Beloved, it is nothing of the kind.

The hallmark of true spiritual development and maturity is this, that we have grown so much less and the Lord Jesus has grown so much more. The mature soul is one who is small in his or her own eyes, but in whose eyes the Lord Jesus is great. That is growth. We may know a very great deal, have a wonderful grasp of doctrine, of teaching, of truth, even of the Scriptures, and yet be spiritually very small, very immature, very childish. (There is all the difference between being childish and child-like.) Real spiritual growth is just this: I decrease, He increases. It is the Lord Jesus becoming more. You can test spiritual growth by that."

The Cross and the Way of Life - Chapter 4 by T. Austin Sparks

The above has got me to thinking....I agree with it, yet it leaves me wondering...Can we have spiritual growth without scriptural knowledge of Jesus Christ? No, I don't think we can. Yet in our seeking out the truth of who He is, we can make that intellectual understanding our pursuit instead of knowing the Person of Jesus. It may take only a little head knowledge of Christ to give great heart growth, while a mind filled with facts can sometimes block the way to the heart.

Remember when you were first saved? How much did you know "about" Him then? Not much, if you were like me. But that little that I did know made Him so huge in my heart. He was all that I thought about. My love for Him sprang up into a beautiful tree, from such a small seed of understanding. And then again, there were times in my walk that I have let chasing after understanding of truth eclipse that simple, child-like wonder and trust that I had in Him. Like all things, I guess it is something that has to be constantly checked, and kept in a balance. The bottom line for me is, I wouldn't trade what I know of Him experientially for all the intellectual understanding of Him in the world.